The dram in a can: Scottish whisky the way South Americans like it…

By Mark Howarth
Last updated at 9:12 AM on 17th January 2011

It is a sight that will have whisky connoisseurs spluttering into their drink – a dram in a can. A Panama-based company believes outdoor drinkers would prefer to crack open a tin rather than lug round a bottle of their favourite tipple.

Now bosses at Scottish Spirits – which retains an office in Glasgow – is testing out the novelty on its Caribbean and South American markets. But last night the Scotch Whisky Association said it would try to ban the cans for breaching international labelling rules.

A spokesman for the body said: ‘We are concerned that consumers may be confused whether or not the product is real Scotch and we will be investigating the matter further.’ Scottish Spirits launched the tins last week, the first time straight whisky has been sold in a can.

Chief executive Manish Panshal said: ‘We are really thrilled with the idea – it’s going to be a part of every lifestyle and occasion.‘The can is the perfect size to be shared between three people who can mix it with other things like cola. ‘It’s lightweight and portable and entirely recyclable, which is good news. It will be one of the hot picks for any outdoor activities.’ World-renowned expert Jim Murray – author of The Whisky Bible – admitted he was intrigued.

He said: ‘Obviously, this is not the traditional way to sell a dram but I’ve seen it on draught in Chicago and out of plastic sachets in Uganda, so it might catch on somewhere. It will certainly be cheaper than buying a big bottle and Scotch spends some of its life in metal containers during the distillation process anyway.

‘But you probably wouldn’t want it in aluminium cans for too long, because it would affect the taste. ‘And my biggest problem with the idea is that there’s no way of knowing what it is you’re buying – and this isn’t proper Scotch. ‘I taste around 3,000 types a year and I can honestly say I have never come across these brands.’

He added: ‘I can’t see it taking off here because a can would cheapen a product that Scots are rightly proud of. A tin of whisky could never make your heart skip a beat like a fine Scotch.’ Whisky in its more usual container. Scottish Spirits launched the tins last week, the first time straight whisky has been sold in a can

Whisky in its more usual container. Scottish Spirits launched their tins last week, the first time straight whisky has been sold in a can Scottish Spirits – which is canning its own-brand tipple and a blend called Sir Edwin’s – was censured by the Advertising Standards Agency last September. The watchdog ruled that its advertisements wrongly suggested it was a home-grown company selling Scotch.

A rival company made a complaint after spotting Scottish Spirits’ ads in a trade magazine. Scotch whisky exports are big business, with global sales three times those of its US rivals. But when it comes to the home front, the picture is less rosy for the spirit, whatever container it comes in. UK whisky sales slipped by 11 per cent between 2005 and 2009. There is little respite in sight. Sales are predicted to stay static at 6.5million cases until 2014, data from industry analyst International Wine and Spirits Research reveals.

The UK is the third biggest market for Scotch, after the US and France. But industry insiders claim there is no cause for alarm. Paul McLaughlin of food export quango Scotland Food and Drink said: ‘I don’t think this is a cause for concern because the key focus is on exports. The home market is not the be-all and end-all.’